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Integrative Physiology

Tom Cunningham, PhD, Graduate Advisor
Carl E. Everett Education and Administration Building, Room 332B
Phone: 817-735-5096
E-mail: Tom.Cunningham@unthsc.edu

Graduate Faculty: Caffrey, Cunningham, Downey, Gwirtz, Ma, Mallet, Mifflin, Raven, Rickards, Schreihofer, Shi, Smith, Yuan

Physiology is an essential foundation for clinical and experimental medicine. The physiologist seeks an understanding of the physical and chemical mechanisms of biological processes. Thus, physiology is the study of the function of living organisms and their various components. It encompasses normal and abnormal function and ranges in scope from an understanding of basic molecular and cellular functions to a cognizance of biological control systems and of the integration of bodily functions among multiple organ systems.

The Department of Integrative Physiology maintains an active and productive research program with special emphasis on cardiovascular physiology. Research interests of the faculty include autonomic neuroscience, neuroendocrinology, cardiac hypertrophy and failure, cardiac resuscitation, cardiac opioids, coronary circulation, adaptation to exercise and hypoxia, effects of aging and obesity, neurophysiology, and calcium signaling. Faculty programs are funded by extramural sources including the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, American Diabetes Association, Department of Defense, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Students may enter the program after completing course work and laboratory rotations as required by the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The program offers advanced courses designed to integrate the fundamental processes of molecular biology and neurophysiology with organ system functions. Students participate in teaching and seminars and receive extensive training in techniques of contemporary physiological research. Doctoral students and Master of Science students perform original, publishable research and present their research findings at national scientific meetings One to two years are required to complete the Master of Science degree requirements. Three to five years are required to complete the Doctor of Philosophy degree requirements. It is expected that, prior to the awarding of the doctorate, the student will have published, have in press, or have submitted two first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Graduates with advanced degrees find employment in higher education, industry and government agencies.

Advancement to Doctoral Candidacy

Qualifying Examination

Prior to registration for Grant Writing (BMSC 6310), and before completion of 72 SCH of course work, doctoral students are required to pass an oral qualifying examination. It is recommended that the exam take place during the spring or summer semester of the students’ second year in the program. The examination will be administered by a departmental examining committee, which will not include the student's mentor. The examination may address all aspects of physiology covered in their courses and, in addition, assess the student's research skills and aptitude.

A maximum of two attempts to pass the qualifying examination will be allowed. A doctoral student who does not pass after the second attempt may be dismissed or allowed to complete the requirements for a Master of Science degree.

Grant Writing (BMSC 6310)

After passing the qualifying examination, the student must register for Grant Writing (BMSC 6010) in the next long semester. This course will require a demonstration of competence in the area of research chosen for the dissertation or a related topic as evidenced by writing, presenting and defending an NIH R21 grant application. The grant application will describe the student's dissertation research project, and will serve as the student's dissertation proposal. Following a public, oral presentation of the research proposal in the grant application, the student will defend the grant application and research proposal before his/her advisory committee.

Upon approval of the grant application and the research proposal, the student is advanced to candidacy. If the grant application and the research proposal is not approved on the first attempt, the student may be offered a re-examination during the current semester or the student will be required to re-register for BMSC 6310 next long semester. The grant application and research proposal must be successfully defended on the second attempt, or the student will be dismissed from the PhD program.

This page last modified March 25, 2013

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